August 20, 2019

National Grid’s Gas Tactics Are Holding New York Business Owners Hostage

Radio ads promoting pipeline and teaming up with Trump’s administration to undermine our state law are the latest act of desperation from the monopoly utility. 

After sending an e-blast in July to customers urging them to lobby elected officials in support of the Williams fracked gas pipeline, and after bullying business owners and developers into supporting the pipeline by withholding new gas hookups, National Grid  is now trying a new tactic: committing over $200,000 to radio ads promoting the pipeline.

Not only is it clear that we don’t need this pipeline; it’s also clear that National Grid’s actions undermine the adoption of renewable energy for heating, cooling, and cooking throughout the state, a transition that is critical for meeting emissions reduction targets in the near future. This ploy comes as the Trump administration has been singling out New York for blocking toxic, unnecessary fossil fuel projects like the Williams fracked gas pipeline. Last week, former coal-lobbyist and Trump appointee, Andrew Wheeler, wrote an OpEd threatening to remove a state law that protects our water to push the pipeline though.

“These tactics are desperate attempts by National Grid to pursue business as usual in a time when we must move to a renewable economy to sustain life on the planet,” said Kim Fraczek, director of Sane Energy Project. “National Grid wants to promote a fossil fuel future in New York, blocking us from moving our energy economy into the 21st century. They are holding their customers and small business owners across New York City and Long Island as hostages to serve their own business plans.”

Cata Romo, Fossil Free New York organizer, said: “New Yorkers have already stopped the Williams pipeline twice, and we’ll make sure this zombie pipeline is never built. Trump’s attempts to take away states’ decision-making power and ram through this toxic project is a direct attack on the incredible people power New Yorkers are building. If Governor Cuomo really wants to stand up to Trump, and make New York a real climate leader, he’ll stop the Williams fracked gas pipeline once and for all and ban all fossil fuel projects in New York State.”

“National Grid’s tactics are a blatant abuse of their monopoly status. Instead of wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars to drum up support for the Williams pipeline, National Grid ought to spend that money helping homeowners and businesses hook up to renewable alternatives. Governor Cuomo can stand up to the bullying of these fossil fuel giants by denying the Williams pipeline for good, and incentivizing investment in renewable solutions instead,” stated Laura Shindell, an organizer with Food & Water Watch.

“If built, this pipeline would cost ratepayers over $1 billion,” said Sara Gronim of 350Brooklyn. “The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation has found that building it would churn toxic substances up into our waters and kill marine life in its path. All so that National Grid can expand their business and spew more greenhouse gases into our atmosphere? Not on our watch.”

“The members of Rockaway Beach Civic Association have voted to oppose the NESE pipeline project and have been working with our partners to fight for the health and safety of the very thing that makes this peninsula special to its residents: the waters that surround us,” said Jeremy Jones, co-vice president of the Rockaway Beach Civic Association. “Our waters are cleaner than they have been in many years. We have witnessed this firsthand. While swimming, surfing, boating, and fishing, the increase of migratory birds, fish, and marine mammals is hard to miss. We support a new way of thinking about how to power and heat our homes, and a shortsighted and short-lived pipeline is not the answer. We are still recovering from the natural disaster of Superstorm Sandy, and we will not be complicit in supporting a manmade one.”

“This project, if built, would negatively impact New York’s ocean economy, which, as the third largest ocean economy in the nation, is an enormous source of revenue for the State. New York has a $23 billion marine economy, which generates $11 billion in wages. The NY/NJ Port is the largest on  the Atlantic seaboard, supporting 400,000 indirect jobs and 229,000 direct jobs,” stated Noelle Picone, campaign lead with Surfrider Foundation, NYC Chapter. 

“National Grid apparently thinks this is a game. Let me tell you, when Hurricane Sandy displaced me from my home, it was no game. I knew then and know now that we must put all of our energy into making our city and state powered by renewables. These big utilities like ConEd and National Grid should not be trying to lock us into years more of fossil fuels that worsen storms like Sandy,” said Yvonne Walker, Hurricane Sandy survivor and member of New York Communities for Change.

Over sixty elected officials, including NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, and City Council Environmental Committee Chair Costas Constantinides, have stood up in opposition to building the Williams pipeline. They, too, recognize that we don’t need this gas, and that gas is not the future for New York. Greenhouse gas emissions from fuels like the fracked gas National Grid brings into New York are major contributors to the climate crisis we face. We are determined to move quickly to build the alternatives of wind, solar, battery storage, efficiency, and heat pump technology and to do so in ways that build a just, sustainable economy.